Trailblazing Female Attorney Founded a Firm and a Family
Josephine Ferro Cuccia died peacefully in her sleep in her longtime Battery Park City home on the morning of May 16. A few weeks earlier, she had celebrated her 100th birthday surrounded by family and friends.
“MamaJo,” as she was known to everyone she loved, leaves behind four children, 14 grandchildren, and 16 great-grandchildren, along with many nieces and nephews, and an extended family of hundreds of friends, neighbors, and clients with whom she was close.
Born in 1923 to parents Edward Ferro and Rosalia Tuzzolino, an immigration inspector and a public school teacher, Ms. Cuccia was exhorted by her mother’s father from a very young age: “you are going to law school!”
After a brief stop on Hunter College, she transferred to St. John’s University, where she earned an undergraduate degree, and then a law degree in 1946. Admitted to the bar in the same year, at a time when it was rare for women to become lawyers, she started her own firm shortly afterward. Joined by Joseph (“DaddyJo”) Cuccia immediately after he returned from service in World War Two, the two became partners in law as well as in life, marrying in the same year. Over the ensuing decades, from their office on Lower Broadway, the principals of Ferro & Cuccia helped thousands of clients find better lives, assisting them in coming to the United States, buying homes, building businesses, and planning for subsequent generations of their own families. She remained proud of her professional accomplishments as an attorney all the days of her life.
After suddenly and unexpectedly losing her husband to heart disease in 1983, Ms. Cuccia formed a decades-long domestic partnership with physician Rocco Bevilacqua (known to her family as “Dr. B.”). The couple alternated between their homes in Great Neck, Jamaica Estates, and Battery Park City. When Dr. Bevilacqua passed in 2007, Ms. Cuccia settled full-time in Battery Park City, surrounded by children and grandchildren who lived in the community and nearby.
A beloved wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, Ms. Cuccia was granted the gift of her abiding wish—to depart this world at home, rather than at a hospital or nursing facility—through the sustained efforts of her adult children.
Ms. Cuccia’s wake will be held at Perazzo’s Funeral Home (199 Bleecker Street) today, Monday, May 22, from 2pm to 5pm, and 6pm to 8pm. Her funeral will be held at Our Lady of Pompeii Church (25 Carmine Street) at 10:30am tomorrow, Tuesday, May 23. The mass will be followed by an interment at St. John’s Cemetery, in Queens.
In lieu of flowers, the family are requesting that friends donate in her name to the Paul Magnus Foundation, in memory of her great grandson, Paulie, who passed away on January 7, 2023 at the age of 27 months, from hypoplastic left heart syndrome, to keep alive Ms. Cuccia’s commitment to helping others.